Thomas Piketty’s Capital and Ideology constitutes a landmark achievement in furthering our understanding of the history of inequality, and presents valuable proposals for constructing a future economic system that would allow us to transcend and move beyond contemporary forms of capitalism. This article discusses Piketty’s conceptions of ideology, property, and ‘inequality regimes’, and analyses his approach to social justice and its relation to the work of John Rawls. I examine how Piketty’s proposals for ‘participatory socialism’ would function not only to redistribute income and wealth, but also to disperse economic power within society, and I discuss the complementary roles of redistribution and predistribution in his proposals, and Piketty’s place in a tradition of egalitarian political economy associated with James Meade and Anthony Atkinson. Having elaborated on Piketty’s account of the relationship between economic policy and ideational change, and his important idea of the ‘desacralization’ of private property, I develop ‘seven theses’ on his proposals for participatory socialism, examining areas in which his approach could be enhanced or extended, so as to create a viable twenty-first century version of democratic socialism.
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